Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Hopscotch 2014 - Day Three Evening Performances at City Plaza, the Lincoln Theatre, Slims, & Kings - 9/6/2014

Hopscotch 2014
Day Three - Evening Performances
City Plaza, the Lincoln Theatre, Slims, & Kings

The most important part of tonight's City Plaza show was getting there in time to see Death play "Keep on Knocking."  For some reason I thought they might play it early, and sure enough it was the second song in their set - for once my intuition pays off!  I had a friend wonder out loud if they played that song too early, as it's the best in their catalog and what I'd guess a lot of people were looking forward to the most.  The rest of the set was good though, lots of between song banter about their deceased brother (who was the original guitarist) and scorching instrumentation.  Particularly of note is how the bass is used almost like a lead guitar in the band, out in front of the mix.  If you haven't seen it, I definitely recommend the documentary on them

It had been a while since I last saw Mastodon, back in 2009 at the Cradle.  To be honest I've not been nuts about the band's slow digression into prog metal, but I figured that performed live even that material would probably sound great - this was correct.  Plus those first two records of theirs "Leviathan" and "Remission" are damn near perfect, and the chance to hear any of those songs was worth the attendance.  They did finally trot out some of these older tracks towards the very end of their set when I took off for other shows, but between the band's performance and the people watching I enjoyed myself anyways.  A few notes:
 - There was an epic mosh pit and tons of crowd surfing.  This is not surprising, but I felt like saying it anyways. 
 - Someone should have done a photo study of all the metal t-shirts at the show.  By my rough estimate, surprisingly Red Fang is the most popular. 
 - Nearly a couple of fights broke out near me, but cooler heads prevailed in the end.  Chalk one up for even-keeled drunk rockers. 
 - That clear Flying V that Brent Hinds played for a while?  I was drooling.
 - Is there another metal band where all members sing like with Mastodon?  That's gotta be unique to this band. 

I kept the metal train going by popping into the Lincoln Theatre to see what Demon Eye was all about.  Turns out they were all about some seventies-style Sabbath-y metal, and it sounded fuckin' awesome.  Nothing groundbreaking to be sure, I feel like I've heard any number of bands go down pretty much this same road, but these guys were performing it at a pretty high level.  The room was almost empty when they started their set but halfway through a rather healthy crowd had trickled in and seemed as into it as I was.  They're local so I'll definitely be making it a point to get to one of their gigs again. 

My plans were very loose for the next little while until it was time for the White Octave at Kings.  I passed my friend Maggie who said Wing Dam were putting on a great show at Slims, so I popped in to see what they had cooking.  The place was packed and hot as shit aka a normal Slims show during Hopscotch.  I could barely see the band, but they sounded good - I'd call it scuzz pop just because I like inventing genres, they were sorta distorted, catchy pop music full of energy and clearly sweat as both the guy and gal at the front of the band took off their shirts.  I feel like I see their name listed on show bills fairly often, so it was good to finally put a sound with a name.  Then my friend Enoch passed me on his away out of the club and said there was already a crazy line to get into Kings...it was time to go get on that, because I would not be denied entrance. 

I got into the club just in time to see the final Y'all song, which was really just an epic distorted rock freak-out jam that may or may not have been indicative of their set at large.  I think I saw them once before, but sometimes this shit bleeds together.  I do know they are from Charlottesville and were formerly part of the now-defunct Invisible Hand.  They play a lot so I'm certain I'll see them again. 

The next band was Krill from Boston.  I had never heard of them but their sound clip on the Hopscotch site was interesting, so I was curious to see what they were all about.  I'm not sure if the crowd was just already pumped for the Octave or they were genuinely up for Krill, but either way it was a lively scene.  The band was a three-piece with a heavy bass presence, and at their best that had a fun indie-pop-punk vibe that I could see myself getting into.  There were a few moments when the bass got too heavy and and I worried the music might go in too much of a "funk" direction, but they managed to keep it pretty well reigned in. 

Finally, the White Octave.  If this wasn't my second most anticipated show after the War on Drugs, it was damn close.  Certainly others felt much stronger about it than me - a guy in front of the stage on the opposite side of the room was openly weeping and shaking and being consoled by his friend after meeting frontman Stephen Pedersen just before the show started.  While part of me wants to make fun of the dude, mostly I'm just pissed because I don't think I've felt as passionately about anything as this guy apparently feels about this band.  Given that they hadn't played live or released any records in 13 or 14 years, I was surprised at how many young people were there and were WAY into it.  How?  Why?  I'll never get these answers, but I was genuinely perplexed.  Some of them were probably in elementary school when their records came out!  Anyways, the band sounded amazing - like they'd never missed a beat, very tight and dynamic and engaging just like I remember from the late nineties.  The crowd, at least at the front of the stage where I stood, were collectively losing their shit - so much singing along and fist pumping and giddy faces out of the whole lot of them.  One can only hope this happens again.  Also: their first record is getting reissued, or rather finally issued on vinyl - exciting times. 

Finally, as an end to my night and Hopscotch as a whole, I popped back into the Lincoln to see the one and only High on Fire.  They were already into their set, lovingly brutalizing ears even from outside on the sidewalk as I walked in.  Listen, I don't want to alarm anyone, but I have some news of note: Matt Pike was playing the show shirtless.  I know right?!?  I was worked and only had a few songs in me, but they sounded great.  Am I the only person in the world that gets a more aggro Motorhead vibe from these guys?  Not on the recordings necessarily, but live...yeah, I'm probably the only one. 

It was a good Hopscotch - money well spent, time well wasted, ears well damaged.  Until next year!

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